As a sociologist of religion, my scholarship sits at the nexus of organizations and social change. Much of my work attends to how this unfolds within the context of U.S. Catholicism.
My latest solo-authored book, Parish & Place: Organizing Diversity in Contemporary American Catholicism (Oxford 2017), looks at “personal parishes” as an organizational response to increasing ethnic, liturgical, and ideological diversity among American Catholics. Defined by purpose rather than geography, personal parishes act as named, specialist organizations alongside the more ubiquitous territorial parish (as generalist organization). This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, The Louisville Institute, and Lilly-endowed program for “Engaged Scholars Studying Congregations.”
My first solo-authored book, Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful is Changing the Church (Oxford 2011/2014), explored the challenge and consequence of advocating for change from within a shared religious institution. It examines a lay Catholic movement (Voice of the Faithful) that emerged in the wake of child sexual abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church.
My newest book is a volume I coedited with Gary Adler and Brian Starks entitled American Parishes: Remaking Local Catholicism (Fordham University Press 2019). The book is the product of a multi-year initiative we called The American Parish Project (TAPP), aimed at revitalizing the social scientific study of Catholic parishes. A summer 2015 TAPP seminar convened a small group of scholars selected from a competitive application process to critically engage a sociology of the parish. The network of TAPP scholars continues to expand via annual gatherings at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. TAPP was generously supported by the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California and the Louisville Institute.
Another volume I coedited with Mary Ellen Konieczny and Charles Camosy – Polarization in the US Catholic Church (Liturgical 2016) – addresses the question of religion and conflict in public discourse from multiple disciplinary and applied angles.
I am currently leading the National Abortion Attitudes’ Study (NAAS), which aims to increase knowledge and understanding surrounding how “everyday” Americans think about abortion. With my stellar team of researchers (Bridget Ritz, Maureen Day, Kendra Hutchens, and Patricia Tevington), we conducted 222 in-depth interviews with Americans across six diverse regions, building a sample that combines a random address-based mailing with purposive quota selection to approximate U.S. demographics most predictive of attitudes toward abortion. We are currently coding all transcripts, and expect to release a report of findings in early 2020. Additional publications will be forthcoming. This research is supported by the University of Notre Dame.
I am also in the midst of writing a book manuscript examining “church conversions” – i.e., spaces that transition from religious purposes into non-religious purposes. I have conducted interviews in the U.S. and globally to depict this dynamic story of religious transition in urban and rural environments. This research is supported by generous grants from the Louisville Institute and Appalachian College Association.
Other forthcoming works include a co-authored book with collaborators Jerry Park and Stephen Cherry on Asian American Catholics. This work extends a national study I was commissioned to lead for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which informed their 2018 pastoral letter, Encountering Christ in Harmony. Reports from that study can be found here and here.
I am also collaborating with colleagues around the globe to write a book on Global Catholicism. Stay tuned!
Some of my other chapters/articles/reports include:
- an edited forum on “Studying Parishes in Studies of American Catholicism” in American Catholic Studies 129 (1): 1-26, with contributions from James Cavendish, Mary Ellen Konieczny, and Carol Ann MacGregor (2018)
- a chapter in Volume 9 (2018) of the Annual Review of the Sociology of Religion entitled “Cultural Catholics in the United States” (2018)
- an article in Liturgy entitled “A Pope, a People, and a Parish: How Changing Demographics Are Changing Catholic Communities” (2018)
- a chapter in Spiritualizing the City: Agency and Resilience of the Urban and Urbanesque Habitat (edited by Victoria Hegner and Peter Jan Margry, 2016).
- a chapter coauthored with Josh Packard on “organizational innovation” in the Handbook of Religion and Society, edited by David Yamane (Springer 2016). Access the chapter here.
- a comprehensive, annotated bibliography of the sociology of Catholicism for Oxford Bibliographies.
- an ethnographic exploration of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Catholic Charities’ Immigration and Refugee Services American Behavioral Scientist (2006), vol 49, no. 11. Read the complete article here.
- a national study on American Catholics and marriage I coauthored while a Research Assistant Professor with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University.